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CN October 12 2017

 

5150 N. Northwest Highway was dealt significant blow this week as Mayor Emanuel refused to grant City tax credits that would have helped the affordable housing development get of the ground.

The 100-unit building that would house seniors, veterans and CHA voucher-holders has been a flash-point of controversy on the Northwest side since its announcement earlier this year. And whether or not the building ever replaces a vacant warehouse structure at the junction of Northwest highway and Milwaukee Avenue, it ignited a dramatic debate in Jefferson Park.

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“It’s a chance to activate the gateway to Jefferson Park.,” explains Sara Gronkiewicz-Doran, a representative of Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park, an activist group formed to advocate for the building. “It’s a chance to take space that is otherwise a passthrough and fill it with families and people walking to the transit station at all hours of the day and night, people walking their kids to school, people walking to the school, people driving. You know, it is a way to bring that area otherwise isolated by its history of use and location into the rest of the neighborhood. It’s a great site.”

Many people in the 45th Ward disagree, some strongly. Thousands have signed a petition opposing the structure. There was a loud, contentious meeting in February at a local church that raised objections that were thought by many observers to be racial in nature, along with objections about density.

“I came as somebody who was interested in supporting a project like this,” says organizer Nick Kryczka, “But I and a few other people who were there were vastly outnumbered by those who had come up to show their opposition. And it was that night that that opposition was revealing itself to be really unfriendly in a particular way, like not just to people who were disagreeing with them like I was, but declaring that exclusion should be the policy of the neighborhood. I think the longer arc of the story is that in fact the reality is the reverse, that the vast majority of people who live in Jefferson Park don’t have a problem with the idea of affordable housing in our community.”

The Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jeff Park group was formed primarily as a reaction to that meeting, they tell us, and they’ve begun passing a petition of their own that’s already garnered about a thousand signatures.

“I would say a large percentage of the people whose doors we knock on haven’t heard about this, Gronkiewicz-Doran continues.  “They haven’t heard about this particular building. They haven’t heard about, they are not aware of , the larger affordable housing crisis, but what they are aware of is – my kid got a divorce and had to move back in with me because he can’t afford an apartment in the neighborhood. My elderly parent can’t get up the stairs to her bungalow anymore and she’s going to have to move out to the suburbs. You know this is an issue that touches a lot of people, and when they are able to make the connection between their own circumstances and the greater need for relief people are much more reasonable about it.”

On this week’s show we talk about the fight for affordable housing in Jefferson Park in context with yesterday’s passage in the City Council of  an affordable housing ordinance. It would mandate the construction of “affordable” units within new larger developments in two white-hot real estate markets on the near northwest and near-west sides.  In these areas, gentrification is a major issue for affordable-housing advocates, because they argue that large numbers of poorer tenants and property-owners are being forced out as development changes the faces of these neighborhoods.

And as developers – and city policy – favor the construction of large buildings with one-bedroom or studio apartments, there’s less and less space for families, and that bothers Gronkiewicz-Doran. “We’re going to get a bunch of affordable one bedrooms and studios, which is great, but there’s no incentive for family development and there’s no carrot or stick to encourage family development,” she explains.

So, although the affordable-housing battles in Jefferson Park and, say, the West Loop are very different, Kryczka says it’s time for the Northwest to get in the game.

“Our view is the fight for affordable housing can’t only happen in areas that are already under rapid gentrification, he asserts. “Because you’re really fighting uphill. So in this way when you were describing that general field of the northwest side’s conservative attitudes, like there is a certain part of that conservatism that actually we identify with, which is what we want to conserve is the mixed income stable and affordable character of the neighborhood. So if you go to a typical block in Jefferson Park or Portage Park nowadays you’re going to find a variety of people, a variety of income levels. You’re going to find one-bedroom, two-bedroom apartments and two-flats and courtyard buildings and then bungalows as well. And that character, there’s a stability to that, if you look back over certainly the recent past that has kept rents stable. But we are right now in the midst of this fight against kind of a 20th Century problem which is angry homeowners who don’t want public housing tenants or what have you moving into their neighborhood. It has a very 1966 kind of a tone to it. But, there’s also the 21st Century problem which is the problem of displacement and the problem of rapid gentrification.”

The future of 5150 is unclear, although its prospects are dimmer now than in the past. But  the Neighbors group says it will continue to fight for the building, and for affordable housing in the area. “Our organization is going to hold our alderman and the aldermen of the City who make noises about supporting affordable housing responsible,” declares Gronkiewicz-Doran. “And it’s not just the two of us. Our organization is growing every day. We had over 1,000 signatures on a petition in support of this building. We’ve door-knocked and talked to hundreds of our neighbors who think that our neighborhood needs more affordable housing.”

You can listen to the audio of this show on SoundCloud here.

You can read a full transcript of this show here: CN transcript Oct 12 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CN Oct 5 2017 Anders Lindall

An important case you may not have heard of is almost at the front door of the Supreme Court. It’s called Janus v AFSCME, and it could deal a deadly blow to public-service unions across America when it’s heard early next year.

Anders Lindall, the Public Affairs Director at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, tells us when a workplace is organized by a union, the union hopes that every worker will join up and carry a union card. But, because of a Supreme Court ruling 40 years ago, individuals can opt out – although they must share some of the cost.

“Now you don’t have to join the union,” Lindall explains, “but because everybody benefits from the contract then everybody shares in the cost of negotiating and enforcing that contract. Obviously, there’s a cost to have the staff, to have the negotiators, to have the attorneys to litigate. All of that has a cost, and so what fair share is, for anybody that objects to the union, to the union’s political activity on behalf of candidates that support working people, you don’t have to pay that portion of dues. You just pay this pro-rated amount that’s called “fair share”. And what these corporate, wealthy rightwing special interests want to do is wipe out fair share so that individuals could choose not to join the union, get all the benefits but pay nothing for it. It’s really a scheme to drain the union’s resources.

Unions represent almost a third of public-sector workers in America today, but only about six percent of private sector workers. And the two are being increasingly pitted against one another. Since public-sector salaries are funded mostly with tax dollars, politicians are attacking unions for what they see as contracts that command high salaries and offer pensions that often don’t match their private-sector counterparts. But Lindall says he thinks public workers have a high degree of support.

“We are talking about firefighters, caregivers, nurses, teachers,” he asserts. “In our case child protection workers, folks who keep our air and water clean, work in our libraries and so much more. People value those services, and people still believe in that basic bargain of America that not only when you work hard you should be able to sustain a family and get ahead, but that we all do better when we all do better. And I think the folks at the very top are trying to turn us against one another”

In a case similar to Janus two years ago, already being heard at the Supreme Court when Justice Scalia died,  so-called “swing” justice Anthony Kennedy voted with the conservatives. So with Scalia’s death the Court was deadlocked 4-4. In Janus, Neil Gorsuch has joined the Court and will almost certainly vote against the union. So that has led our Governor, Bruce Rauner, who was instrumental in bringing this case, to claim that there’s a 90% chance this case will go his way.

If Janus v AFSCME is successful, it won’t, in and of itself, kill public sector unions. But it will make it possible for anyone to quit the union and receive all the benefits provided by the dues-payers. The interests who brought the suit are confident that over time the dwindling dues will kill the unions and allow legislatures to cut salaries, pensions and benefits. But Lindall says his union and others are ready for the fight, and he believes large numbers of workers will remain in the union as dues-payers anyway.

“Gallup does an annual survey of American attitudes about the labor movement, and those numbers have been on an upward trajectory ever since the great recession,” he claims. “I think it really shook people up and made them realize how deeply insecure too many working people are in this economy. Folks are slipping down the ladder to the middle class, you know, trying to hang on to what they’ve got, unable to get ahead. In this country that’s just not what we were ever raised to believe. You know you should be able to do better than your folks did and your kids should be able to do better than they did, and that’s why two-thirds of Americans today in this most recent Gallup poll just out a couple of months ago say they think that unions are a good thing. Large percentages say that they would join a union if they could. And really interestingly, the younger someone is the higher their approval of the labor movement is.”

You can listen to the audio-only version of this show on SoundCloud here

You can read a full transcript of the show here: CN transcript Oct 5 2017 Anders Lindall

 

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CN Oct. 5 2017 Dan Mihalopoulos

 

An hour after we recorded this discussion, everything changed. Then on Friday it changed again, in a big way. After Cook County Commissioner John Daley announced that he was switching sides on the pop tax, other commissioners jumped with him, assuring the “repeal” side that they had the votes to override a veto. So, although the vote is a few days away, it seems certain that the “pop tax” will disappear in December.

Nevertheless, if the debate over this controversial tax weren’t already divisive enough, Sun Times columnist/reporter Dan Mihalopoulos stirred things up on Sunday with the revelation that Commissioner Richard Boykin, who led the anti-tax movement, had been a lobbyist for an industry advocacy group called the Nutrition Association, funded in part by PepsiCo, and that the law firm in which he’s a partner, through its client PepsiCo, had lobbied against the Cook County tax.

On this week’s show, Mihalopoulos lays out the details. “Boykin works for a firm called Barnes & Thornburg,” he explains . “He doesn’t just work for them, he’s a partner. He shares in revenue as a partner, and they have a client called PepsiCo, which I think quite obviously has an interest in this issue. They’ve donated money to Boykin and every other commissioner who is opposed to this tax.” But, he continues, “Also to 16, no less than 16 of the cosponsors of legislation in Springfield that would repeal this tax, and also to a PAC that’s recently been created to oppose this tax, or to support people who oppose this tax and punish people that support the tax.”

And Barnes and Thornberg even played a role in opposing the tax a couple of years ago when the City of Chicago briefly considered a soda tax. “They’ve represented Coca-Cola as well in the last couple of years,” he tells us. “Pepsi also had hired Barnes & Thornburg to lobby for them according to Pepsi, at City Hall when the government of the City of Chicago considered a pop tax, never came to fruition, was rejected ultimately, and we can assume that that’s partly through the lobbying efforts of Barnes & Thornburg and the decisions that the aldermen and the Mayor made ultimately. So, I think it’s fairly simple that he has profited from all of the clients of that firm as a partner, and one of them is Pepsi, and I think it was fair to point that out.”

Boykin appeared on Wednesday night at a live debate at The Hideout,  to make the case for repeal with co-hosts Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky. And he told the First Tuesdays audience how unhappy he was with Mihalopoulos’ column.

“I’ll deal with the Dan Mihalopoulos article,” he told the crowd. “I thought it was a hit job on me, personally. And quite frankly I’ve sent a letter to the firm cuz I don’t want even the hint or appearance of impropriety relative to the firm doing business with PepsiCo, and somehow I’m benefitting financially from it. That was the subject of the article. And somehow Dan stretched it and said, hey, the firm is doing millions of dollars worth of business with, you know, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. The reality of it is – I work at a law firm that has 800 lawyers, 13 offices nationwide. And we’ve done less than $10-thousand worth of business – legal business —  this year, with PepsiCo. And so what I did… I sent a letter to the management committee at the firm and said to them, I don’t want any proceeds as part of my share as a partner from the firm, from PepsiCo or Coca-Cola litigation-related matters’ legal representation.”

On Chicago Newsroom, Mihalopoulos fired back.

“That’s news to me that he would say that he has now asked his company not to share the profits from their work for Pepsi with him. Is he giving back the money that he has made off them? I don’t hear that in those comments that were made.”

And he recoiled from the characterization of his column as a “hit job”.

“If you mean hit job in the sense of what I think hit job means to everyone, he’s saying that somebody paid me to write about him? I get paid my salary. I don’t get more or less, depending on what I write about Boykin or anybody else. So I think that’s a very serious allegation that he’s making that’s completely false and slanderous frankly…Now, he also makes another statement that we said that there were millions of dollars that were paid by these companies to his firm. Did not say that in the piece. Anybody is welcome to read the piece again. Did not say that. In fact, we don’t know how much money his firm made. He didn’t share that information. He says that this year they got paid less than $10,000 by Pepsi. But they’ve represented them for years and years in a variety of cases, and if the amount of money that Pepsi has paid to Barnes & Thornburg to represent them in a number of cases and to lobby for them at City Hall is that minuscule, that would represent one of the deals of the century for Pepsi. But he’s welcome to disclose how much money he has made off of them, but I’m not aware that he is no longer to get funding from them or share in those proceeds, because when I talked to him it was very clear that he’s a partner and he shares in the profits of the firm, and PepsiCo is a client of the firm, and it’s quite simple.”

Whether it was the PepsiCo money, or the outrage of taxpayers, or the persuasive power of Richard Boykin and his colleagues, their side appears to have won this battle, and now President Preckwinkle and the board of Commissioners has to decide how to replace the $200 million they claimed it would raise.

You can listen to this show on SoundCloud here:

And you can read a full transcript here: CN transcript Oct 5 2017 Mihalopoulos

 

 

 

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CN Sep 28 2017

There’s a traditionally-accepted standard that nobody should pay more than 30% of their salary for housing. But more than half of people who rent their housing in Chicago pay more than that.

The number of such “cost-burdened” Chicagoans has risen by seventy-eight percent since 2000.

The number of Chicagoans earning $75,000 plus has risen by more than 100,000 in the same time period.

The population of the “Super-Loop,” the downtown-plus West Loop, River North, South Loop,etc, has grown to 229,000. A few years back, planners estimated – optimistically – that the Super-Loop would expand to about 200,000 — by 2020. The number is escalating wildly.

At the same time, Chicago lost 200,000 people. According to Kevin Jackson, our guest this week, “90% of that was African American. A huge part of that was those families who made $75,000 or more.”

So Chicago, like so many other places, is experiencing a hollowing-out of the middle.

These are just a few of the stark realities identified by Jackson’s Chicago Rehab Network in their latest, just-released report.
That report is timed in synchronicity with the City Council’s most recent attempt to craft an  ordinance that will provide, or encourage, more “affordable” units in Chicago.

But what’s “affordable?”  How do you define it? And can a city like Chicago, which is experiencing dramatic waves of gentrification in certain sectors, balance affordable housing with gentrification? Does the city have an obligation to discourage, or even halt, gentrification?

These issues have deeply divided some aldermen who have to deal with the effects of these forces every day.

Jackson tells us that there’s a sense of urgency among the aldermen whose wards intersect with the hottest zones right now. But there’s significant disagreement about how to proceed. A few weeks ago, there was a push to demand extremely high fees from developers who proposed tearing down single-family homes or small apartment buildings along the 606. But when an ordinance finally passed the Housing Committee on Monday, those provisions hadn’t even been considered. This led to some emotional confrontations between the aldermen who sponsored a more moderate approach  and the aldermen who demanded a stronger response to gentrification but weren’t even consulted as the replacement ordinance was drafted. The City has proposed two pilot programs covering the most rapidly-gentrifying regions that would force developers to build more affordable units – if not in their own buildings then within two miles of them.

“The leadership of the City, of advocates and community organizations recognized that this development pattern is at a pace, hyper inflated was the term, that we are going to see incredible displacement if we don’t do more,” Jackson says. “And so the pilots were an effort to say how can we get more done for affordable housing and capture that growth? That’s the whole concept of this Affordable Requirements Ordinance about how do you include and get a development agenda that has some equity to it, a development agenda for the City that has inclusive strategies recognizing the disparity of incomes and places in the City. How do you do a development plan that works?”

Areas such as the 606 in Humboldt Park and along sections of North Milwaukee Avenue are clearly white-hot real-estate markets, and nearby residents – especially renters – are freaking out about housing they’ve lived in affordably for years suddenly vanishing.

“Latino communities’ folks talk about the constant displacement of these neighborhoods, and the issue that we recognize is with that type of real estate activity people get hurt.,” Jackson tells us. “And that’s what we want to do is how do you get a situation where people have an opportunity, particularly people that we hear across the City talk about having lived in these neighborhoods for so long and they lived there when they were tough and they helped keep it stable. And they were in the voices and the ears. They don’t want to be the ones that have to leave, because now there’s an investment interest in it. That’s our challenge.”

And that brings us to another stunning statistic revealed by the CRN’s report. “The rents in Chicago since the 80s have increased 95%,” Jackson laments, “And the incomes at the same time have only increased 15%.”

So, vast numbers of Chicagoans are suffering from the economic stagnation that’s victimized lower-income people all across the country.

“I can say definitively,” Jackson asserts, “that there’s over a million jobs today that are actual people working in Cook County that do not have enough wages to them to afford what’s called the affordable rent. In the Cook County area…the affordable rent, the wage to afford the average cost two-bedroom in Cook County today is $21 an hour and some cents. There’s a million jobs that pay less than that $21, and so if we’re going to have an organization of a city, if we’re going to have an economy that allows for opportunity for people to actually succeed we have to start with that.”

Whether the pilot zones the City proposes will reverse years of declining relative income for Chicago’s working poor remains to be seen. But it’s sure to be a contentious issue when the full council takes up this ordinance on Oct. 11, and we’ll be there to cover it.

You can read a full CN transcript Sep 28 2017

And you can listen to the audio in your earbuds here.

 

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CN Sep 21 2017

 

Remember when the Department of Justice came to Chicago with a list of “requirements” for reform of the Chicago Police Department? That was just days before Donald Trump upended the federal government and announced that the feds would no longer seek a consent decree to push those reforms through.

On Chicago Newsroom  a few weeks ago, Police Board Chair Lori Lightfoot told us that only about a third of the recommendations a different task force – the one she chaired and whose members were chosen by the mayor, and which had reached many of the same conclusions a few months earlier – had been implemented.

The not-for profit Chicago Reporter decided to build its own progress tracker for the DOJ report. It concluded that the DOJ had 99 “requirements,” and that, six months after its release, only 6 of the 99 could reasonably be considered completed. Reporter Jonah Newman is leading the tracking project.

“Some of these are going to take a long time to really implement,” he allows. “Some of them require the cooperation of the Police Union. Some of them require City Council. Some of them require other city agencies, so I think it’s important to not be too critical, to understand that some of these are going to take a long time.”

And Newman reports, some of the next category, “partially implemented,” include some very thorny issues that can’t be considered implemented just because someone sent a memo. “Changing the use of force policy to clarify and reinforce the idea that the sanctity of life is of utmost importance for example. Those are really important things, and again, important things to see implemented into CPD policy. At that point we will mark that on here as implemented. The question then becomes – well, does that change what actually happens for police officers in the field, and that’s going to take a lot longer to really see.”

Chicago just missed having the Justice Department run the process by a few weeks, a fact that community organizers lament and some police supporters celebrate. But, Newman says, there’s no doubt that the Trump administration has lengthened the process considerably. “If you talk to police reform advocates and people who have done this in other cities,” he explains, “they will say that federal oversight is crucial. To make sure that there is actually a timeline for how and when these things are supposed to happen, that there’s money put behind them, because without money a lot of these things are going to go by the wayside…So in other cities where the Justice Department has come in and done these investigations, by now we would be well on our way if not already have a signed consent decree between the City and the Justice Department.”

Many critics have noted that the police unions stand united against many of the enumerated reforms, and some specific ‘requirements” cannot be implemented without modifications to the police labor contracts. Key among these issues is the process for engaging with police officers who’ve been involved with a shooting or other controversial action.

“They are not required to talk to investigators from (what’s now) COPA until 24 hours after the shooting,” says Newman, “and they are allowed, and not just in shootings but in all misconduct cases to, if there’s video, to view the video before making a statement. Or if they have made a statement before viewing the video to view the video and revise their statement afterwards.”

But Newman cautions against casting the FOP and other unions as the sole reason for delaying reform. “I do think that some of the more difficult recommendations from the Justice Department are not contingent on the FOP, and are some of the ones that are going to be most difficult to track…And some of that is because the City hasn’t released information or hasn’t been fully transparent about what they may or may not be doing. But part of it is things that we, it’s just going to take a long time and a lot of work and data analysis to really figure out if it’s happened, right. So for example, are they holding supervisors accountable if they fail to report misconduct. That’s something that we don’t know yet.”

“One of the recommendations of the Justice Department had to do with the timing and the process for what happens after an officer-involved shooting,” he continues, “making sure that officers and witness officers are separated so they can’t collude and start to get their stories straight, making sure that IPRA investigators were there on the scene, obviously once the scene is secured. But making sure that they really have an active role so that they are not just relying on the Police Department to do interviews first, and then IPRA comes in to do it after the fact.

So it’s crucial that, after a shooting, the Independent police Review Authority has investigators in the scene immediately.

Newman says that Police Board Chair Lori Lightfoot, and Sharon Fairley, who heads what was once IPRA but has now been re-tooled as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, have made strides toward reform of their agencies, but it’s something that isn’t easy to track.

“I think that both Lori Lightfoot and Sharon Fairley have really taken their positions seriously,” he asserts, “and are both really serious about making sure that the police oversight process in Chicago is fair and transparent and works with the community. They’ve both really made themselves open and available to the public in ways that I think wasn’t necessarily true before.”

Newman has written extensively for the Reporter about police issues, and a recent report tackles police moonlighting. Chicago’s, he tells us, is the only Department among America’s top 50 that does not require officers to report their moonlighting work to their supervisors. And with all the overtime that Chicago officers are being required to work in recent years, that’s becoming an issue. “Obviously the concern is that if you are being overworked, if you are working 15, 16, 17 hours straight, are you really clear-headed enough to be doing that job?”

Beyond the fatigue issue, Newman says the CPS fails its officers in a very significant way. “When this report was written, and I don’t know yet if this has changed, again, it’s one of the things the City says it’s working on and is adding more resources to the department within the Police Department that provides these services. But at the time there were three mental health counselors for a 12,000-unit strong police department.  Three people. That’s clearly not enough, and the tragedy is and I think this was actually in the task force report, that the Chicago Police has a higher suicide rate than other police departments. Not just in the general public, which that’s already the case, but than other police departments across the country. Obviously, we’re not helping these men and women the way that they need to be served, and making sure that there is no stigma about that, and making sure that the department is really serving their needs.”

If there’s any doubt that misconduct occurs in the CPD, consider the cash settlements the city made after lawsuits from the public between 2011 and 2016 The total came to more than $280 million.

“It’s an incredible amount of money,,” Newman insists. “And the most shocking thing to me as I’ve been reporting on these lawsuit settlements is again, unlike other cities, unlike best practices, the City of Chicago does not routinely and strategically analyze these lawsuits to see – are there ways that we could actually minimize the amount that we’re paying out? Are there ways that we could obviously minimize the underlying misconduct that causes all these payouts? That’s not something that the City has been doing, despite the fact that first the Mayor’s task force said they should be doing it, then the City’s Inspector General said they should be doing it, then the Department of Justice said they should be doing it, they’re still not doing it.”

“That’s low-hanging fruit,” he continues. That’s easy, right. It doesn’t take long. We did it. We took the time. They have access to the data about these lawsuits even more so than we do, right, and so it’s not that hard to be taking that data, mining it, and saying what could we be doing? What policies could we implement? What training could we do that might change some of these things?”

The reason the Reporter’s database has five categories of implementation, ranging from “implemented” to “Not done” with a special  “unclear” designation is that, just because an official says it’s done don’t necessarily mean that it’s been done. “One of the things I think we need to be careful about is the difference between having a policy on paper and actually knowing well how is that playing out on the street with police officers in the field. And so I think with all of these you need to take some of that with a grain of salt, because we just don’t know yet and may not know definitively exactly how all of these reforms are working.”

You can listen to this program in your earbuds on SoundCloud

And you can read a CN transcript Sep 21 2017

 

 

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CN Sep 14 2017

We spend most of our time on Chicago Newsroom focused on Chicago’s myriad budgetary, educational and social problems. But there’s no denying the dramatic construction boom that’s enveloping so much of our city’s central region and at least a few of its more affluent areas.

That’s the focus of today’s show. And our guide through the thicket of aerial construction cranes is AJ LaTrace, editor of Curbed Chicago.

“So, what we keep track of is current high-rise construction,” he explains. “And we measure that as buildings that are 100 feet or taller. So we just recently updated it within the last couple of weeks and we counted 54 buildings. And you know it’s amazing, because when we first started doing this around three years ago or so, I can’t remember the exact number but it was about 12 or something like that. And we just thought, oh this will be kind of fun, we’re in double digits now, but now we’re approaching dozens.”

Of course, there’s plenty of debate about why this development is concentrated in so few places while some neighborhoods can’t even get a branch bank or food store. But the construction boom that’s completely remaking our central city  is a very real thing.

Leading the way in this construction boom is the conventional, not-very-exciting or cutting edge apartment tower. That’s what dozens of those tower cranes are building. They’re not inspiring or significant, but they are money-makers, LaTrace says. And that’s what most developers craze. Its what the Tribune’s Blair Kamin has called “Form Follows Finance”

And, LaTrace tells us, those apartments, in the tens of thousands, are selling. “They call it the absorption rate, so you know, right now it seems like there are people to fill these buildings,” he explains. “As soon as that slows down obviously that’s when things are going to change, but you know, if Chicago keeps on this pace of new corporate investment and sort of job corporate outposts and things of this nature, I mean there’s a chance this could keep going on for another couple of years.”

And, he adds, if by some chance Chicago manages to land Amazon, “That would go on for the next decade at least.”

The conventional thinking is that Chicago and other big American Cities are enjoying an urban renaissance. But Urbanist Richard Florida has said recently that the central-city boom may  be over. The Millennials, he says, are (finally) starting to have babies, and like their grandparents, these new parents are starting to hear the siren call of the suburbs.

“I mean, there are so many variables to that,” LaTrace responds. “Obviously schools are one of the biggest ones and transit is really big too. I think a lot of people who are moving to the city are going to stick around indefinitely, or be around.”

“The thing that’s kind of odd is that in a lot of ways the suburbs are cheaper,” he points out. “And now it’s like $250k you can get a one-bedroom condo in the city, so you know, the economics kind of favor the suburbs in terms of obviously having a family, but I don’t know. I really do see the sort of, the terms like new urbanism which some people love and some people love to hate, but I think we’re going to see the cities really, I think people like me are going to stick around.”

And since it was the Millennial generation that so severely rejected the suburbs, and, in particular, the suburban office environment, the actions of this cohort in the next decade or so will be critical.

“But you know,” he adds, “I think it’s just kind of a cultural shift too. I mean you think about in the 70s and 80s and the corporate office park that was where people worked. And now if you take the Kennedy out and you go past Des Plaines and Rosemont and all these sort of late modernist high-rise office buildings that were built in the 70s and 80s they all have a big For Rent or Space Available signs.”

We also talk about The North Branch redevelopment, the new Apple store on Michigan, the Obama Library,  the Old Main post Office and quite a bit more.

You can listen to this program in your earbuds on SoundCloud.

You can read transcript of the entire show here:CN Transcript Sep 14 2017

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CN Sep 7 2017

Michael Hawthorne’s not too worried that Chicago will have to deal with a Houston-like 50-inch rainfall any time in the near future. But Chicago, like Houston, has a lot of impermeable paving, endless parking lots and massive buildings with acres of roofs. In other words, lots of places where rain ends up with no safe place to go.

About 50 years ago the region embarked on the Deep Tunnel project as a way to reduce Chicago’s chronic polluting of its waterways, and to alleviate flooding at the same time.

We ask Hawthorne, who’s an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune (and the paper’s environment writer) whether the project, now more or less complete, has succeeded.

He says in many says it hasn’t. “I mean the weather has changed,” he explains, “but the climate is changing as well, and the way it’s changed in Chicago is that we get either long spells of heat or cold. Think of the polar vortex or think of the 1995 killer heat wave, but we don’t necessarily get as much rain or more rain than we used to, we get it in shorter, more intense bursts. And that’s really challenging our sewer system and the deep tunnel more than ever before.”

Have we spent more than $4 billion over four decades in vain?

“The answer,”  Hawthorne explains,  “from people from the City, from the water reclamation district say no, it’s money well spent. The problem could be a heck of a lot worse if we didn’t have this.”

But there are problems. “Because even with the deep tunnels in place,” he says, “they’ve been in place for more than a decade now, the City a few years ago did a modeling projection of how the local sewers, the sewers that are actually on your street, how they could handle a storm. And they figured out that two-thirds of an inch overwhelms most sewers in the City.”

And still there are sewer outfalls into the Chicago River that expel waste after especially heavy rains. “A story that I did earlier this year found that one storm in July, there was enough raw sewage and runoff that came into the north branch of the river that it could have covered the loop in muck about eight feet deep,” he tells us.

We all know that Chicago is a city of inequalities, and lead is a major example. While market forces such as gentrification and property rehabs have stripped the lead out of older buildings in wealthier areas, that hasn’t been the case in low-income neighborhoods. So for many poorer Chicagoans, lead exposure isn’t much better than it was in 1970 or 1920.

“They tore the public housing high rises down and shifted people into scattered-site housing or what was for many years called Section 8 housing,”Hawthorne explains. “But many of those private homes where people could get a voucher to pay for a good part of their rent, were homes that were built before 1978 when lead paint was banned in the United States…And they are not kept up. I’ve been in dozens of them and they are not necessarily kept up fairly well and so peeling paint is a problem.”

Hawthorne and his colleagues have reported for years on the residual lead deposits that still ravage some communities years after lead was effectively banished elsewhere.  “In part, because of the research that the Tribune did in terms of looking at the shifting of lead poisoning rates from 1995 to 2013 by census block groups, (so – smaller than neighborhood areas), you can see that lead poisoning essentially disappears from the wealthier neighborhoods of the City. And while it still declines in say Englewood or parts of Austin, Lawndale, while it’s a decline from what it was in the mid-90s it’s still significantly higher than the current City-wide average,” he says. “In some cases one of every five kids instead of eight of every ten kids are poisoned. That’s still a pretty sizeable number, and (Harvard researcher Rob) Sampson has gone back and looked at the people that he’s been following since they were young kids in Englewood. And one of the first papers that came out from applying lead poisoning to his earlier research, he summed it up by saying that lead paint or lead poisoning is a way that racial inequality literally gets inside the body.”

“There’s research out of the University of Cincinnati, Hawthorne continues, “where they’ve been following kids since they were in the womb, and they found that when they were in their school age years they did more poorly on standardized tests. They tended to fail grades more frequently. And when they got older, when they were in their teen years and early 20s they committed not only crime, but violent crimes at a far higher rate than kids who weren’t poisoned. And they are now finding some of these people are now in their 30s, well past the time when the peak crime-committing age happens, and they are still caught in this kind of maelstrom of crime and poverty, and some of the participants have talked with the researchers about – I just don’t understand why I get so mad all the time, or why I’m always fighting with everyone.”

Hawthorne says it all raises an interesting question: why aren’t we tackling this problem?

“Can we kind of go toward the low-hanging fruit? This is something that we know that we can control. We can’t necessarily control jobs in a neighborhood. We can’t necessarily control whether people have easy access to guns. We can do things by trying to prevent them from being lead poisoned. We know what to do…On lead poisoning we made great success. Some public health people, the Illinois Department of Public Health would say that combatting lead poisoning is one of the greatest public health victories of the 20th Century. But we still have thousands of children in the City of Chicago who start out life very early on with a very preventable condition that is going to cause problems that cost society, that cost us, that cost taxpayers a heck of a lot more money in the long-term.”

Funding for lead programs has been severely cut in recent years, Hawthorne says, in part because there’s a perception that it’s last century’s problem. But there are thousands of young Chicagoans who are struggling with neurological problems brought on by lead poisoning of their brains. “And then,” he says, “You have this kick in the gut, as one researcher put it, where their brain is permanently scrambled at a very early age because they’ve played on the ground like any kid does, and they’ve ingested lead paint or lead dust. And their brain has been irreparably damaged in parts of the brain that control your impulses, emotional control that allow you to pay attention.

It’s not a case of the politicians and policymakers not having enough data to proceed with some remedial work, he says.

“One of the best studies in Chicago, there was a researcher who formerly headed the lead program under Mayor Daley, she managed to get the early lead testing data from 52,000 children in Chicago public schools, and then found a different way with folks at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to compare their rates of lead poisoning or the amount of lead poisoning as a child with how they performed in third grade. And every increase, slight increase in the amount of lead that these children were exposed to or that was in their bodies when they were 1 or 2 years old increased their chances of failing third grade by almost a third. And these are kids that were in third grade in 2003 to 2006, so they are kids that today would be in their mid-20s if my math is correct. And what I found even more staggering about that research is that about three-quarters of the average level of lead poisoning in about three-quarters of Chicago public schools that were open at the time, this is among those third graders, the average was above what the Center for Disease Control Protection says is a threshold where kids should be medically monitored, where inspectors should be visiting their homes. That’s a lot of lead-poisoned kids that are living in this City today and now are in their early to mid-20s.”

“The City of Chicago has, the Health Department has now they’ve got ten lead inspectors. I’ve gone to housing court, the Administrative Hearing building, every week there are people in court or at the administrative hearings because a child was poisoned by lead in their home, so the problem hasn’t gone away,” he asserts.

What can individuals do? “You can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or the Ace Hardware and get a pack of lead wipes and you swipe it and it turns a certain color if there’s lead there,” he explains. “They don’t do that at the CHA. They don’t do that at the federal HUD, and there were all these promises in the tail end of the Obama administration to take care of that. Ben Carson, the new HUD secretary said during his confirmation hearings that he understood this subject and that it was going to be one of his top priorities, but nothing has happened in this new era, this new administration yet, on this issue.”

We also discuss the ongoing issue of the lead service lines that bring water into our homes. Unless your house or building was constructed later than 1986, your drinking water is probably traveling into your residence through a lead pipe. Running new copper lines into every building in the City is a massive project, and many homeowners might not want the disruption. But other cities have figured out ways to do it, and to make it a public health priority.

“You have to remember lead is on the periodic table of elements,” Hawthorne points out. “It doesn’t go away. And we emitted a heck of a lot of lead from factories and out of our automobile tailpipes and we have lead in our homes and our water pipes and our paint was full of lead. And people knew, people knew in the last century, in the early part of the last century that this was a problem. But in a scenario that was repeated by many other industries, the tobacco industry, chemical industry, the lead industry pioneered a campaign of deception and of confusion essentially to keep their products streaming into our homes and into our environment.”

“There are a lot of questions out there,” he concludes. “The one thing we know a lot about, we know about the toxicity of lead and we now know that there’s no safe level of lead exposure. And the fact that we have it bringing what once was clean tap water into our homes, that should alarm everyone.”

 

Here’s an archive of Michael Hawthorne’s Tribune stories

Here’s the SoundCloud link to this show

Here’s a transcript of this entire conversation:CN transcript Sep 7 2017

 

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CN August 24/31 2017

 

Lori Lightfoot, who chairs the Chicago Police Board, is our guest for the next two weeks  on Chicago Newsroom. We recorded a double-length conversation on August 24 and split it into two parts, both of which you can watch here.

Here’s part one

Here’s part two.

Lightfoot was just reappointed to the Board by Mayor Emanuel after what appeared to be a chilly meeting. Although the Mayor has made progress toward reforms that were recommended by the Accountability Task Force she chaired, Lightfoot has publicly criticized the Mayor for moving too slowly on the big, institutional changes she feels the public is demanding.

The Police Department is, she asserts, the most important civic institution in our city.  “If people don’t feel safe,” she explains, “if they don’t feel like the Police Department has legitimacy, that’s a recipe for chaos. So we’ve got to make sure that we do what we can to make sure the reforms are being done, that we strengthen the support of police officers through training, and we also make sure that the public is invited into that conversation with a full seat at the table, that there’s transparency around discipline and accountability. That is the only way that we are going to be able to stand up a Police Department that the public frankly can be proud of, but more to the point, we will feel comfortable calling in a time of need.”

“We recruit from segregated neighborhoods,” she continues. “And the young men and women who pledge their commitment to be Chicago police officers are coming from those segregated neighborhoods. They are meeting each other in the Police Academy for the first time. And in many instances, they are meeting somebody who is their same age, who has the same aspirations, but has a completely different background, and they come into the Academy with a lot of preconceived notions about the other.”

But, nevertheless, she says all recruits coming up in the system have to be comfortable with a new reality about policing, and that includes the scrutiny that video surveillance systems like body and dash-cameras bring to modern policing.

“If you’re not comfortable with the scrutiny,” she proclaims, “and really, to me what it comes down to is police legitimacy, it depends on the consent of the governed. It depends upon people… feeling like they are willing to afford officers the ability to use deadly force in certain circumstances at its most extreme. If you are not comfortable with citizen oversight– the consent of the governed– you should not be a police officer.”

Earlier this year, Superintendent Eddie Johnson rolled out a new “use of force” policy and began implementing it immediately. Lightfoot says it’s a solid beginning.

“One, I think, of the hallmarks of the new use of force policy is the emphasis on the sanctity of life,” she asserts. “And it says it upfront, unambiguously, which is important because you know, things like under Illinois law there’s something that was called the ‘fleeing felon’ rule. Which meant if somebody had committed a felony or that you as the officer believed that they might at some point commit a felony, you were fully authorized to shoot them in the back as they were fleeing away from you, when they posed no immediate danger to you. The concept was because they had committed a felony they might be a danger to the community. That’s a crazy law, and frankly I think even though shootings were done in those circumstances, it put the officers and the Department at odds with the public. There was a point in time where people obviously felt like that was okay, but the world has changed and policing has to not just be whipsawed by every political movement that comes along, but it needs to be mindful of the community in which it serves, what the community’s values are, what the community’s sensibilities are.”

During Lightfoot’s tenure as Chair, the Police Board, which functions as essentially a quasi-court for police personnel who’ve been charged with serious violations, found itself becoming a much more serious hearing body. Of fifteen cases heard, all resulted in a firing, a suspension or resignation. Now, if the Superintendent brings charges, the Board is far more likely to agree.

“When I started in roughly August of 2015, I was mindful of the fact that the Police Board concurred with the superintendent only 35% of the time, and I thought that seems odd to me.” Lightfoot wondered.

In fact, the more stringent police board is something the police union is threatening to make a big issue during the ongoing contract negotiations.

“Yeah,” Lightfoot says. “They want to move to try to take away the Police Board’s jurisdiction over these cases, and it should be a hot topic during negotiations, and the City should push back vociferously, and absolutely not yield any ground on agreeing that police officers don’t have to come to, in these serious cases don’t have to come before a public hearing and give account of themselves, rather than going into the black box of arbitrations as the Union is trying to do. That would be going so far in the wrong direction at this time, that I hope that the City sends a very clear message to the Union that is simply a non-starter.

On the subject of union negotiations, Lightfoot says the newly-elected Kevin Graham is going to find running the union more difficult than running for office.

“Well there are definitely Trumpian tones to Mr. Graham’s campaign,” she claims. “You know, I think again you have to take it with a grain of salt. The FOP obviously is the biggest union, and in theory they represent the largest number of officers in its collective bargaining unit. But I think you have to ask yourself who actually voted in that election, what percentage of the officers that could vote, actually did vote. I talk to officers all the time. I have friends who are officers. Officers stop me on the street and we have conversations. I’m not 100% accurate that the fire and brimstone that we saw during the course of the FOP presidency campaign is entirely reflective of where officers actually are, and I will say it– particularly officers of color.”

Some of what’s being said by the FOP, she says confidently, is just posturing as contract negotiations get under way. “You know, as President Trump is finding, campaigning is very different from governing. And being a responsible adult in a difficult situation I think requires different skills, different perspectives than it does to go out and campaign and say you’re going to be the toughest SOB that’s out there and you’re going to win this this and this for your people. The reality sets in pretty quickly once you’re actually in office and you recognize the constraints and limitations on the scope of your power. I would imagine some of that reality is setting in now, but as I said before I think the Unions are important. They play a particularly important role as being the voice and advocates for their members. But this is a different time, and they need to deal with the reality of what we’re in and the challenges that we face, and direction that we need to go in towards reform.”

Earlier in our conversation Lightfoot emphasized the importance of police personnel recognizing the “consent of the governed.” We asked her what percent of the current police department buys into the concept of “the consent of the governed?”

“I think a shockingly small number,” she says. “From my conversations, what I’ve witnessed, and I wouldn’t just say the rank and file, I would say it also goes up to the exempt ranks. I don’t think they’re there yet, but they need to be there, and I hope that we can get them there, and I hope they get there willingly.”

A lot’s been written lately about the “Strategic Subjects List.” It’s a data-base generated by an algorithm that purports to have the power to predict when person is in danger of shooting, or being shot. But, despite police officials telling the public that there were about 1400 people on the list, a FOIA obtained by the Sun-Times revealed that the data-base has almost 400,000 entries. We asked Lightfoot if the public should trust, or have confidence in, the List.

“You can’t get out there and constantly talk about the strategic subjects list without people wanting to know more about it,” she explains. “What is this? And am I on it? How do I get on it? What’s the criteria? … Managing the communications around what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it is critically important, and with due respect to the police Department, I think they’ve laid a big egg when it came  to this list.”

In June, a group of civil rights and other organizations filed suit against the city (Campbell v City of Chicago) seeking court oversight of the police reform process. Last week, the City filed suit to dismiss that lawsuit, saying that police reform was progressing well and court oversight was unnecessary.

Lightfoot says that the City, despite its efforts at police reform, is missing the point.

“Stepping back from this particular lawsuit, there’s a continuing sentiment that is deep and wide-spread, particularly in communities of color here in the City, that our police department is failing those same communities,” she tells us. “That our police department is continuing in practices that violate our constitutional rights. Now whether that perception is real or not, and I think there’s a lot of evidence that the problems continue, the perception is real. And deep. And heart-felt. We saw that in a number of different ways through the police Accountability Task Force process. And quite apart from litigation, the police department has to reckon with that perception and that reality because it cannot effectively do its core mission of keeping us safe if people don’t regard it as legitimate for whatever reason.”

We asked Lightfoot if she sees politics in her future.

“I’m interested in policy, I’m interested in getting something done,” she tells us.

“You know I come from very humble beginnings and I have been extremely fortunate and blessed in my life. And the challenges that I describe? Those are challenges for people of my own family. So I know this stuff very well and I feel it deeply.”

“I have a brother who’s spent most of his adult life incarcerated. He’s now a 60-something  year old man struggling every single day to find a job that doesn’t require him to do physical labor like he’s a 20-year old. So I get these issues. And I feel like given that I’ve been so fortunate, that I have an obligation to try to help.”

You can listen to these conversations as audio-only programs here:

Lori Lightfoot Part One on SoundCloud

Lori Lightfoot Part Two on SoundCloud

And read the full transcript here: CN transcript Aug 24 2017

 

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CN August 17 2017

Nothing much to report this week in the ongoing struggle to find equitable financing for Illinois’ public schools.

The effort to override Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto has stalled for now in the House, where there aren’t enough votes. The bill would outline a comprehensive plan for reforming education funding to public schools, and without it, the schools just have to wait.

“Yes, we have a budget deal,” explains Tribune Education reporter Juan Perez, Jr. ” No, we can’t distribute education dollars until we have this latest mess sorted out. And now you are seeing how again, the partisan divides that are happening in Springfield are playing out and driving this – honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this extend all the way through the Labor Day weekend. Personally that wouldn’t shock me at all.”

So if the override fails, does the process have  to start again, from scratch? House Speaker Mike Madigan says, no matter what, he’s not backing off the bill, known as SB1. “The Governor has also said that the parameters within the legislation are for the most part 90% to his liking,” Perez, Jr. explains. “So I don’t know that everything evaporates and you have to completely start from the drawing board. I think there’s a framework there that people can get to yes on. Again, … there are negotiations that are occurring and I would suspect that something like this can serve as a framework moving forward.”

What does this mean for Chicago’s public schools? Depending on what happens in Springfield, he tells us, “that assumes that $300-million in funding will arrive if the legislature manages to override and pass the current version of Senate Bill 1.” But there’s also talk of the City having to kick in an additional pot of money, too. Perez, Jr. says it’s looking like “an infusion of $269-million, the source of which hasn’t been discussed publicly by anybody who is actually in charge of making these decisions. Stop me if this is sounding like Ground Hog’s Day all over again.”

The major source of disagreement between House members is over the degree to which CPS, with its extraordinary proportion of students whose families live below the poverty line, should receive special funding to compensate the costs of teaching these more-expensive-to educate students. Perez, Jr. says the situation is complicated further by the vast disparity between CPS’ least-achieving and highest-achieving schools. At least three high schools, NorthSide, Whitney Young and Payton, were listed this week as among the very best high schools in the country.

“That’s amazing to see just kind of the broad range, only separated by a few miles here, sometimes not even that much,” he says. “It’s a question of how good the facilities are, how good the course offerings are, how good the academic outcomes are. It still astonishes me sometimes just to see just how broad those gaps can be in certain cases.”

If CPS’ fiscal troubles are ever solved, it won’t be soon. The loans that CPS has taken out just in the last year or two will cost more than a billion in interest over he next 30 years.

“I mean that’s an extraordinary amount of money,” he asserts. “And that ramp is climbing, but the debt service costs are also substantial and they are noticeable, and they are going to be growing as well. And what the school district is getting for these massive loans from their bankers are not the physical structures, the gleaming school buildings and facilities that you would normally expect to see. Instead, you are throwing a lot of interest and pushing off principal payments on a massive credit card bill just to basically get you a little bit of cash now so that you can kind of ease a little bit of the pressure that you have on the checking account this year and maybe next year.

But Perez, Jr. ends on an optimistic, if qualified, note.

“I think what the City is betting on is that to a certain extent the public understands the fact that yes, we do want to finance our public education system,” he declares. “We understand that this is a social good that needs to be financed, but everybody has got a breaking point. I don’t know how much patience there is amongst the City Council or others to take on yet another tax hike.”

You can read a full CN Transcript Aug 17 2017.

You can consider this show a podcast and listen on Soundcloud.

 

 

 

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CN Aug 10 2017

 

Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of the education funding bill may bite the dust in the next few days.  At least that’s what two of Chicago’s most connected reporters are thinking, and they share their insights with Chicago Newsroom this week.

But, say the Tribune’s John Byrne and Politico/Illinois Playbook’s Natasha Korecki, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the bill will be free and clear and the money will start rolling to the schools.

At this moment, it appears that the Senate will vote on Sunday, and they will easily override the Governor’s veto. The story’s different in the House, though, where the margins are narrower.

“What I think is gonna happen is they’re going to take the governor’s plan and put it in a separate bill. And say, OK, let’s vote on the Governor’s plan. And see how much support he has. And he’ll get probably ten votes for it and it’ll go down in flames,”  Korecki predicts. “Then, if Madigan feels he has the votes for a full override, maybe he does that…but he needs a super-majority to do that.  It doesn’t look like he has that as of yet, but who knows?”

“There’s been some talk of maybe a ‘trailer bill’ that would help fix some of the things in the original bill that Republicans don’t like,” she continues. “and get a few more Republicans over to get their votes.”

So it’s still very much up in the air. But Korecki says there’s a signal hidden in Speaker Madigan’s decision to hold the vote next Wednesday. That just happens to be “Governor’s Day” at the State Fair, so maybe that’ll be the day when Madigan’s House delivers the fatal blow to the Rauner veto. It’s politics, Illinois style.

“People really don’t like this pop tax.”

That’s John Byrne’s succinct summary of Toni Preckwinkle’s “sweetened beverage tax.” But how does he know? Has there been any polling?

“The only recent polling I’ve seen is the 87% hating the pop tax. And also the “Twitter straw poll,” where my Twitter feed is nothing but people holding up receipts, with the pop tax circled.”

“She’s even managed to tick off the LaCroix voters,” he adds. “If Toni’s lost the LaCroix voters, she’s in trouble, I’ll tell you.”

President Preckwinkle feels strongly about the tax, though, not just because she insists the County needs the revenue, but because she feels it will encourage increased health outcomes county-wide. Korecki’s not buying it. “It’s just affecting everyone,” she asserts.  “I don’t think people are gonna change heir habits. They’re gonna change their habits where they shop, but you’re not gonna stop drinking something because of the tax increase.”

“It’s visceral,” adds Byrne. “I hesitate to compare it, but in the visceral-ness of it, it’s like the parking meter thing was in the City. People are angry about it. And people are angry about these other taxes too, but but this pop tax, man it’s right in your face all the time and people understand it and they’re angry about it.”

Republicans are going to introduce a repeal ordinance, Byrne reports. But Preckwinkle still appears to have the votes to prevail, although only if she casts the tie-breaking vote for the second time. That makes her the symbolic owner of this unpopular tax.

And that could lead to a challenger for her post in 2018. One, freshman Board member Richard Boykin, has already held a press event to attack the soda tax.

“He was much broader in his attack on the president, reports Byrne. “Her leadership style, she’s a monarch. He said if I do choose to run against her – this isn’t a campaign speech – but if I do choose to run against her this will only be one part of the ammunition I will have against her, and then ticked off these other things he said she’s screwed up, and how she’s dictatorial.”

Mayor Emanuel’s been on TV a lot lately, but not on the local channels. He’s been taking his message of resistance to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions on Sanctuary Cities directly to the national audience.

“He can go on CNN or wherever and they are happy to interview him as an elder statesman of the Democratic Party, because they’re looking for someone to hammer on Trump and he’s a very colorful interview,”  explains Byrne. “And then he gets to make his pitch for the city while he’s on there and they don’t have the background or the context – or the desire – to tick him off by fighting with him over violent crime when he’s on there talking about how Chicago’s gonna be at the forefront of fighting Trump’s immigration policies. This is clearly a pivot he’s decided to make and it’s working for him pretty well.”

But as both Fran Spielman and Mark Brown pointed out in yesterday’s Sun-Times, the Mayor’s record doesn’t always match his actions and his past statements on immigration.

You can listen to this show as a radio program on SoundCloud HERE.

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